Sunday, August 7, 2016

Education: Lighting a Fire

My Franklin Covey planner's quote for the day is "Education is not the filling of a pail.  It is the lighting of a fire."

I like the quote.  It looks good on a poster or a Franklin Covey planner.

Academics by nature don't accept things on face value, at least I was not trained to, so I am scrutinizing this.  It is by William Butler Yeats, a great poet (I used one of his in my first novel) but I don't know if he ever taught.  There's a big difference between making pronouncements about education and actually teaching day-in, day-out.

Paolo Freire took up this theme with the idea of the banking model of education, which I call the tea pitcher model (I live in the South, but it's not sweet tea).  We of course don't just pour knowledge into students' heads. They do construct some knowledge themselves, but not without access to what has come before, which, well, was poured in.

No model or quote or metaphor can encompass everything about learning and teaching.

Sometimes the only fire we light is one under the students to get serious about their studies or they won't pass the class! Sometimes it is a fire of self-awareness and self-efficacy--they are capable, but learning is hard work and not always fun but still worth the effort.  Sometimes we light a fire so they can see beyond their previous boundaries.  Sometimes we light a fire to destroy some of the old wrong ideas or prejudices or misinformation so that new knowledge can grow. 

Fire can be destructive or useful.    

Friday, August 5, 2016

The myth of nontraditional students in higher education

Hopefully this isn't behind a password, because it's the best thing I've read on higher education practice in a long time.

Today is the last Friday I am off due to our college's "no Friday in summer" policy.  I am glad for it, because it was a rough week. But I was doing some errands and went to the bank.  One of my former students (I have thousands of those) works there and came up while I was dealing with an account issue.  I recognized him and was trying to do my "Oh, let me remember you" game and I had to be reminded of his name, and it was only a year ago.

He is having a hard time getting the classes he needs to fit around his work schedule due to our college's behindness to online courses. I agreed with him.  Online classes are not the panacea for "nontraditionals" (or post-traditionals as the commenters suggest) but they do have advantages.  There are lots and lots of ways colleges can serve these folks better.  A person is only 18-22 for 4 years, but they are adults for 40 or more.